SAN FRANCISCO -- Although Tim Lincecum will make his next scheduled start Monday against San Diego, Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti said Friday that the struggling rookie likely will miss his following turn in the rotation, which would give him only one more starting assignment before the All-Star break. The combination of scheduled off-days, Lincecum's status as the team's fifth starter and the Giants' fervent desire not to watch him continue to unravel prompted the decision. With off-days slated for Thursday and July 2, San Francisco can keep the other starters on their regular four days' rest and wouldn't need Lincecum until July 7, the next-to-last game before the break. "Unless one of the other pitchers has a problem with health, he probably will have to skip a game," Righetti said. "I plan on skipping somebody; four guys is all we're going to need with those days off. Most likely it'll be the fifth guy."
Since posting a 2-0 record and a 3.24 ERA with 22 hits allowed and 39 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings over his first five starts, Lincecum has gone 0-2 with a 10.61 ERA, 23 hits allowed and 21 strikeouts in 22 innings through four outings. Righetti expressed hopes that Lincecum's learning process can "slow down for him a little bit" to allow him to catch his breath, figuratively speaking. Because Lincecum's professional career began late last season, he has relatively little prior experience to tap for wisdom. As Righetti said, "There's nothing to reach back on -- 'Remember when this happened?'" Righetti emphasized that the Giants remain confident in Lincecum. "As long as he understands that everything's going to be the same, we're not going to panic on him," Righetti said. "We know how tough it is, but we're not going to baby him, either." Righetti hasn't noticed any extreme mechanical problems with Lincecum, 23. "The same thing he's doing when he was getting hit, he was doing when he was throwing it by them," Righetti said. "You just don't want him to back off." Familiar scene: The grandstand aisles surrounding the visitors' dugout were choked with people before the Giants' Interleague series opener against the New York Yankees -- the teams' first meaningful confrontation in San Francisco since Game 7 of the 1962 World Series. Obviously, the sight of the Yankees stretching and taking batting practice was a novel experience for their displaced fans and Bay Area residents who rarely, if ever, see the New Yorkers in the flesh. Righetti, who pitched for the Yankees from 1979-90, understood the fascination. "It's probably like the Original Six in hockey. Certain teams are going to have certain amounts of people always there," Righetti said, pointing out that teams such as the Cubs, Dodgers and Giants also enjoy a nationwide following. "The Yankees certainly have their share."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.